Three pillars of ayurveda to boost immunity

As the world faces a global pandemic situation due to COVID-19, we must realise we are together in this journey to fight back. Dharana Shillim is committed to help you in every aspect of your wellbeing and bring you the best practices to optimise physical, physiological and psychological health while you are safe at home.

How can we achieve this? The answer is simple - by embracing the Dharana Way of Life through our integrative approach of Preventive Medicine, Nutrition & Dietetics, Exercise & Physiology,  Conflict resolution, and Spiritual wellbeing.

While social distancing and quarantine has become incumbent for safeguarding us from COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Arun Pillai, the Wellness Director of Dharana Shillim, discusses Ayurveda’s perspective on immunity and few preventative methods to take care of your wellbeing.

As per Ayurveda, all communicable diseases fall under the category of affecting your body only when your Ojas is weak; that's when the microorganisms or viruses find such favourable hosts for manifestation.

What is Ojas?

It is the subtle essence of your vital tissues, or the Dhatus, which keeps up the strength of your body and supports Vyadhikshamatva, which means disease resistance or immunity power of the body.

The emphasis of enhancing your Ojas has been advocated in ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhitha, Astanga Hridaya & Sushrutha Samhitha. However, let’s draw the attention to an imperative and relevant citation from Sutra Sthana chapters of Ashtanga Hridaya, which explains in detail the importance of balancing and maintaining Triopasthamba, which means 3 essential pillars of life. This includes Ahara, which is food, Vihara, meaning activities and Nidra, which means sleep.

Ahara (Food)  In times like this, strengthening your immunity is of prime importance. It can be done by consuming the right food containing the right nutrients, such as Vitamin C & R, Beta carotene. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits like orange, lemon, amla, mango etc. They are all ritucharya aka seasonal fruits. Beta Carotene can be found abundantly in vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach. Vitamin E is rich in sunflower seeds, avocados, peanuts, almonds and olives. In addition to these nutrients, it is also worth including foods like ginger, turmeric, garlic, sprouts, yogurt, ajwain seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds - all of which maintain your Jataragni, that promotes probiotics and prebiotics.

What is Jataragni?

It is the digestive fire, responsible for metabolising your food, so it keeps the body free from toxins and supports the good microbiomes of your gut. It also avoids formation of free radicals that threaten immunity. It is essential to drink warm water at all times. Include some herbs like Neem, Fenugreek Seeds, Licorice Roots, Tulsi leaves into the boiled water to brew a cup of tea. However, be mindful of consuming in small quantities.

Remember to eat in moderation and follow the Ayurveda rule of filling your stomach with half solid foods, quarter with liquid. Eat only when you are hungry and stop when you're satisfied. Most importantly, chew your food well so the enzymes are activated in your saliva, that alkalises your food even before it reaches your gut, in turn, reducing the acid in your gut.

Vihara (Activities) The second pillar of the Triopasthamba is Vihara, which means activities or lifestyle. In quarantine, there is a tendency to become inactive and start liking the idle nature of the day perceiving it as rest, at the cost of your health. Follow a dinacharya, or a daily routine to assist in disciplining your physical, physiological and psychological levels.

The best way to do it is mentioned below

  • Try to wake up between 5-6 am during the Brahmi Muhurtha, a period of the day which has abundant cosmic energy, ideal for Yoga, Meditation and Pranayama, which helps in keeping stress hormones at bay, which can weaken your immunity and stay fresh for the day.
  • Simple practices of gargling with warm salt water & turmeric, Jala Neti, anulom vilom pranayama will ensure your respiratory tract is clear from mucous & germs right from the entry point.
  • Self massages or Abhyanga with simple Ayurvedic oils is also a form of detoxification, that enhances blood and lymph circulation affecting macrophages and phagocytic action which decreases infections
  • Yoga Asana such as Matyasana (the fish pose), Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose), Tadasana (mountain pose) and Bhujangasana (cobra pose) combined with a brief meditation session can elevate your mindfulness and create a positive vibe, and can decrease quarantine anxiety and stress hormones like adrenaline, norepinephrine that weaken your immunity.

Nidra (Sleep)

The last pillar of the Triopasthamba is Nidra. Ayurveda has classified sleep as the most important pillar as it allows the body and mind to go into a resting state after a period of time. Often neglecting sleep for sme extra screen time, can neglect your circadian cycle and hamper the sleep hormones such as melatonin and weakens the immunity as it decreases the sleep hours. In contrast, a good sleep of 8 hours leads to production of adequate cytokines like  Interleukin and Interferon , that further assist in infection combating anti-bodies.

Apart from 3 Pillars of Life to boost immunity, it is essential to take precautions and adopt practices to safeguard your present immunity. Allow your diet and lifestyle to follow the Dharana philosophy, that is free of sugar, refined foods, preserved canned foods and habits like alcohol and smoking, all of which increases bad microbiomes in the gut and weakens the good microbiomes. Till then, Stay Home, Stay Safe & Stay Healthy